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Butler routs Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Horizon League showdown

Jan 25, 2009 - 12:40 AM INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Shawn Vanzant and Butler turned Saturday's Horizon League showdown into a blowout.

Vanzant scored a career-high 20 points as 17th-ranked Butler crushed Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 78-48, in a matchup between the Horizon League's top two teams.

Freshman Shelvin Mack added 14 points for the first-place Bulldogs (18-1, 9-0 Horizon), who have won 10 consecutive games and are off to the best conference and overall starts in school history.

Butler won its 14th consecutive home game at the expense of the offensively-challenged Panthers (12-8, 7-3), who have lost their last four visits to Hinkle Fieldhouse.

The Bulldogs and Panthers have been the class of the Horizon League in recent years, combining to win at least a share of the last seven league regular-season titles.

But Saturday's matinee was dominated on both ends by Butler, which made 15 3-pointers while limiting Wisconsin-Milwaukee to a paltry 24 percent (13-of-54) from the floor.

"They're a really good offensive team and you'd like to think you're playing really good defense," Butler coach Brad Stevens said. "But sometimes you have one of those nights, and I think that's what happened to Milwaukee."

Panthers coach Rob Jeter certainly was impressed with the Bulldogs.

"I just have a lot of respect for guys who play with passion, stick together and play with a plan," Jeter said. "For us, we need to regroup."

Butler's offensive catalysts were Vanzant, Mack and Grant Leiendecker, who combined to make 10 3-pointers.

Leiendecker finished with 12 points while Willie Veasley added 10 as Butler overcame a poor effort from leading scorer Matt Howard, who managed just seven points on 1-of-4 shooting.

Tone Boyle scored 15 points to pace the Panthers, who entered the contest one-half game ahead of rival Wisconsin-Green Bay (14-6, 6-2) for second place in the Horizon.

Mack sank back-to-back 3-pointers to start the contest, and freshman Gordon Hayward drained a shot from beyond the arc to give Butler a 23-8 cushion just over 12 minutes into the game.

The Panthers clawed within 25-17 with 3:50 left in the first half, but the Bulldogs responded with a 20-4 run bridging the two halves and took a 45-21 lead on Veasley's two free throws with 16:24 remaining.

"Defense is always a focus for us," Hayward said. "I think we did a good job tonight."